Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recent, random pictures

Levi is 2 1/2 months old now and really likes to make eye contact and smile at you.  Mornings are his best time.  He is almost laughing.  Funny how we aren't born able to do all these things at once.
He is waiting for some sort of entertainment.  " Do something, Mom, to make me laugh.  The more ridiculous the better!"

We went to Ft Worth this last weekend to be tourist since my sister-in-law was visiting Texas for the first time.  Ft Worth is a popular town known for it's downtown Stockyards which consist of shops, restaurants, rodeo facilities and the famous daily cattle drive.  Micah had fun checking out this statue.

Julia (11) and Anthony (13) on the train.  

This is Rich with one of his sisters.  They have lots of fun memories together since they were the last two out of 6 children in their family.  I called them "thing 5" and "thing 6" !  Lisa showers us with her generous spirit whenever we are with her so she calls herself " the favorite auntie".  It's always tricky to see if you can pay for anything in her presence.  Rich had fun sneaking out to the store to buy her some things she had wanted and of course, she had a fit when he returned!  Ha!

Dominic is now playing baseball with his best friend.  He has had a crash course in the game this past month and is doing pretty well.  Many home schooling kids seem to lack knowledge of basic recreational games like baseball, football, soccer and volleyball.  Things we learned in P.E. class are not taught so we have to look for ways to expose them to these activities.  Dominic loves sports so we decided he needed to use his abilities and he chose baseball.

It took Micah a little while to warm up to Auntie Lisa but in the end she won his heart just like she has all our kids.  She used reverse psychology and told him not to kiss her, so he did, of course!

Olivia with her Dad

Levi is totally bored with baseball.  He just sleeps the whole time or snacks.

Uncle Bart and Dominic with Aunt Lisa.  Micah called Uncle Bart, Uncle Bark! So cute!

Brandon and Dominic.  These two are inseparable when they are together .   Brandon is a big reason why Dominic wanted to play baseball in the first place. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waking from Summer Hibernation

We finally had a decent weather day and were able to play outside after many months of being cooped up.  It was so beautiful, even though everything is all dried up, to breath some fresh air again!

We have switched school curriculums to a more Charlotte Mason approach and she advocates what she calls "nature walks".  So with nature journals in hand, we ventured outside and walked down to the creek behind our house.  Texas is in the middle of a drought as you can tell by the inch of water left in the creek.  The kids could literally walk across to the other side without hardly getting their shoes wet!

And this is what they were trying to go see!  These pretty flowers were growing wild on the side of the creek and they wanted to draw them and record details about them in their nature journals.  I think they are called Black- eyed Susans but I'm not totally sure about that.

I did not want to walk across to the other side for fear I'd slip on the moss plus I had Levi asleep in the stroller. So Micah and I sat on the edge of the bank and watched the Water Hoppers jump on top of the water and the minnows swimming around and the beautiful dragon flies fluttering by.
I was reminded of how wonderful God's creation is!

 I love my stroller that I found at a garage sale a few years ago.  Levi can sleep on his tummy in it because it reclines almost completely flat.  Doesn't he look like a little frog in it?

When the temps drop down into the 60's and low 70's at night, then it's time for a backyard bon-fire!

I'm really enjoying watching the personalities of our children blossoming in such different ways.  It's common to hear that all kids are different but when they are young it's sometimes hard to see.  They all liked to eat, play in the water, and unroll the toilet paper!  But now as they grow into teenagers, they are coming into their own, if you will.

Julia loves to draw and she is really good at it because she has an eye for detail.  I have a wall devoted to the kid's art work and I think it is mostly hers. She remembers everything ever said to her and almost all events in our family she has recorded in her brain!  It truly is amazing.  She can spell super accurately because she sees a word written and so therefore she can remember what the word should look like.  

She is also the only one who faithfully gives me a goodnight kiss without fail!

Micah is still little so I'm curious how his personality will continue to develop.  Right now, he loves repetition so we sing the same songs every night before bed. He even says the same thing every night.  "Is Dominic and Antony (no "th" in his name) coming to bed?"

He copies everything we say and DO even.  We all got a great laugh when he and Dominic were playing hide and seek one morning.  Everywhere Dominic hid Micah took note.  When it was Micah's turn to hide, he would hide in the same exact place.  He truly thought no one would know where he was!  One time Dominic dove under the covers of the bed to hide.  Then when it was Micah's turn, he couldn't get into the bed fast enough so he just grabbed the blanket and threw it over his head.  Dominic yelled "Ready or not!"  And there stood Micah in the middle of the room with a blanket over his head and still as could be!  It was really funny!

Olivia is very responsible.  She loves to clean and throw things away and be organized.  At least every 6 weeks, you'll find her going through every nook and cranny of her room, throwing things away, organizing and cleaning her room.  She feels so much better with less stuff to deal with.  Recently she filled up 6 bags of clothes and put them out in the shed so she would have less to choose from!

Olivia has a growing interest in First Aid and fire fighting.  She has been reading books about real life emergency situations and has decided she wants to be an organ donor.

She rides her bike every morning at 6:30 a.m. with her brother Anthony for exercise.

She loves music and has recently written a song and sang it with a friend in church.  She plays the violin in the church orchestra and is now really getting into the piano.  She loves classical music.

Anthony is 13 and I don't think he has a rebellious bone in his body.  I pray that never changes.  This isn't to say he isn't selfish at times but he truly wants to please his parents in EVERYTHING almost to a fault.  He is learning "grace" right now and is TRYING TO NOT TRY so hard.

He enjoys anything that has to do with science.  He absolutely loved our nature walk the other day and would be in heaven if we did those every day!  He loves our science activities and experiments.  This love must be why he is the one to jump up and help me make soap.  When it's the season to garden, he jumps up and wants to "plan and plant" with me.  He has had his own garden going now for two years.  Last year he got a killer crop of habanero peppers and this year he is getting some cucumbers.  We experimented with potatoes this year and I can't say it went all that great but he is eager to try again next year.

Anthony is not real flexible when it comes to style.  He like a good old fashioned suit and tie!  Blue jeans have to be blue, not black or faded, with no pockets down the legs, no zippers in odd places and definitely no holes or unfinished edges!

Right now he is aiming to be a missionary pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Dominic is very sociable.  He loves people.  Being alone is a struggle for him.  He is happiest when we have company or when a friend invites him over.
His big interest right now is baseball.  We hesitantly let him join little league with his best friend and he is loving every minute of it.  I say "hesitantly" because he is already so competitive.  Plus they play their games on Sundays.  Although we don't have to miss church or anything, we didn't know if we wanted to commit to going to games on Sunday afternoons.  We made the leap, though, and so far it's been a lot of fun to watch him play.  He is picking it up quickly.  There are tons of rules in baseball and I'm realizing how quickly you have to make judgement calls that could cost the team that winning point.  I don't think the boys feel the pressure of this but us parents sure do! Dominic has always had a natural ability to play sports well.

He is very opinionated about his clothes.  He likes sport type pants and shorts.  You know the sweat pants that swish when you walk and have a strip down the side leg?  He also likes cargo pants, skateboard shoes and t-shirts. 
He listens to contemporary christian music all day long unless I change the station.  He can't stand classical.

It will be interesting to see how Levi turns out.  Right now he is pretty much like the rest of our babies.  He cries when it's bed time and he loves attention and smiles when you talk to him. He loves to eat and sleep.

As you can see, our children are very different from each other but they are best friends.  It is so fulfilling to lay in bed at night and listen to them laughing together when they have a slumber party with each other on the weekends.  They choose to spend time together which is an awesome dynamic to our home environment.  When Rich and I go out on a date, the kids will stay home and play cards together. Anthony will make dinner for everyone since he loves to cook.  God has blessed us with an assortment of individuals in our family but we all mesh together well!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Levi is now smiling a lot!  He started smiling at about 2 weeks old but they were so brief it was impossible to catch on camera.  Now at 4 weeks, he is smiling tons.

I know this stage changes so fast and I'll forget all the incredibleness of it, so I'm trying to take it all in while I can.  One friend reminded me how awesome it is that we have the capability to take pictures and video to help us remember.  Years ago that wasn't an option!

Levi isn't the only one around here, that wears a smile!

Mornings like these make me smile.  It doesn't take long for me to change my perspective from, "I'm wasting time here snuggling with my newborn" to "No time is wasted snuggling with one of God's children!"

Levi loves to look up.  His head is always back trying to see all that's above him, I guess.  It seems to me, it would hurt his neck but he sure likes it. I can tell that he hears my voice and is really studying his mama face.

"Oh, my mama is so beautiful!"

These were taken yesterday at 5 weeks old.
I love this elephant but it is about as big as he is right now.

This is one of my favorite onesies because of the color and it says "Apple of my Eye".

This picture reminds of Popeye the Sailer Man!

Micah says so many darling this these days.  I wish I could remember them all.  We sing to him every night and he requests 4 songs never calling them by their actual titles.  Jesus Love Me is "the Bible song" The doxology is "the Amen song" and the funniest is Amazing Grace.  He calls it "the wretch song!" because He saved a wretch like me!

We also sing This Little Light of Mine and he holds up his foot as his light and we do all the motions with his toes!  You know, hide it under a bushel, No!  and Don't let Satan blow it out!  We blow on his toes and he giggles and giggles.

Just about every time Micah holds Levi like in the pictures above, I grab the camera and take their picture so now he tells me to.  As soon as they get situated, he says "Take my picture, ok?"

These two will be best buds one day soon and I get to experience it with them.  Thank you Jesus!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When God Speaks

Levi, above, at 2 weeks

Gazing out the window at 3 weeks old

This is how I've felt the last 2 months or more, trapped inside the house.  Well maybe not "trapped" but not happy about the ongoing heat we've been experiencing here in Texas this summer.  It was unbearable when I was pregnant.  I stayed home as much as possible only leaving the house to go to church on Sundays or to take the kids swimming at a friends house because that meant I could get in the water myself.  Now that Levi is living outside my body, I'm able to somewhat enjoy going outside if it's early morning or after dark.  We almost broke a record of 42 days in a row over 100* but missed it by 2 days.

  Right now it's 104*.

This might not be too big of a deal to you, but I love to be outside enjoying a cool breeze.  I don't mind the heat because I grew up in it living in Modesto, California.  At least there it cooled off at night.  We haven't been able to open our windows here for over 3 months because the temps drop to a warm 85* at night and the air feels stagnant.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining but just trying to communicate what you are probably NOT experiencing since it's been unseasonably cooler in most states besides ours this summer.

So back to my story.  For the past few months I've been dreaming about taking a vacation to someplace cooler to get out of this heat.  Normally, I'd pack up the kids and go to Colorado or in years past, we've taken a long weekend and rented a cabin in the Arkansas mountains to escape the heat for a reprieve.
Since I was expecting and now we have a newborn, this is an impossibility.  I just have to suck it up and endure it. . . but not without joy.  I have a choice.  I can grumble and complain and be downright discontent or . . . I can let God give me a new perspective.  And He did just that a few weeks ago on a Tuesday night.

I love baby yawns!

Tuesday night is when we go to a weekly prayer night at Gospel for Asia.  Usually someone shares a short devotional about something the Lord has been teaching them.  On this particular night, the speaker shared about suffering.  He spoke of how hot it's been and how easy it is when working outside to get dehydrated and how wonderful cold water is at a time like that.  It's so easy to be thankful for water when we really need it.  Then he shared about how our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in hostile countries in Asia suffer when they openly decide to follow Jesus.  It is very common for them to be banned from the community well.  They are then forced to drink pond water where the local people wash their clothes and let their cattle drink.  Their suffering means that they will most likely get diseases from the unclean water and could eventually die.

Gospel for Asia is working to bring clean water to some of these remote areas through providing wells called "Jesus Wells" where no one is banned from using them. Not only do they get the physical benefit of taking in clean water but the well also communicates God's love for all.  He died for us while we were yet sinners!   My small suffering of living in the Texas heat is bringing others new life! 

 God changed my perspective when I heard this message.  God spoke to my heart and gave me a glimpse of what he sees.  If only I could go to visit with my sisters and brothers in Christ across the world every few months to understand their plight better, I wouldn't grumble and complain about my circumstances.  I think I would endure them gladly so that others may live!

Now as I look outside and find myself wishing the weather was cooler, I remember what God told me that night.  He shared with me the plight of those whose suffering could mean death and he asks me to put aside my wishes for a season so that they might have life!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Announcing Levi Zachariah Lodi!

 I tried to just pick out a few of my favorite photos, thinking I had about 5.  After choosing, I realized that it's more like 15!  Hope you like to see newborn pictures as much as I do!

The one above is of Micah meeting his baby brother for the first time.  Levi was about 7 hours old at this point.  Since he was born at 1:06 a.m. Micah was sleeping and didn't get in on all the middle of the night action (thank God).  Meaning the "action" I'm referring to was not all hunky dory.

This birth was a whopping 18 1/2 hrs. long from start to finish and Levi didn't come sliding out like all the others.  I actually struggled to get him to come for 35 minutes which seemed like an eternity.  I was completely dialated for that amount of time but no baby was making his appearance and I wasn't feeling any of the normal things that signal any changes being made with each grueling contraction I endured!

It was daunting to say the least.  But finally God was gracious and he came on July 22, 2011 an hour after midnight.  I've never been so relieved in all my life!  I couldn't give God enough praise for seeing me through that birth.  I never would have expected my 6th child to be so difficult, after all my body had done this 5 other times.  

I realize now that I had the dream birth when Micah was born, 3 years ago.  I labored for 8 hours and pushed for 4 minutes with him. I expected this one would go even faster and be even smoother since I was more prepared for what to expect.  Guess, I had some unrealistic expectations.

But now that it's all behind us, we are on to the fun stage of taking care of our newest member of our family.  Everyone is in love with our little "pickle" as we so affectionately call him.

Every time I see the picture above, I feel like I've seen it before.  Turns out I have the exact same picture of our Julia in the same pose and the same sleeper, just taken 11 years ago!  The resemblance is uncanny!

Levi weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long and was a week early, exactly.  If he would have been full term, he would have been in the 8 lb range and would have been our biggest baby.

In the week that we've gotten to know Levi, we've noted that he loves to be held in this upright position with his belly on yours.  He snuggles his little head right up under your chin if you let him.  Once he is fully asleep, we try and put him down to get a few things done, but he rarely lets us.  Within 10 minutes or so, he wakes up and fusses until you pick him up and hold him in his favorite position and then he conks out again.  My midwife pointed out that he is used to going everywhere I do and was never put down to sleep alone while in the womb.  For the time being, we are enjoying it although I'm sure there will be a time when we teach him to be content by himself for a bit.

Love this one that shows just how small and fragile babies are!

Levi is 1 week old in the next few pictures. His eyes are a dark grey at this point but I'm sure they will be brown eventually as we all have brown eyes except for Olivia.  Hers are hazel. He does prefer to be on his tummy if he isn't in someone's arms.

I adore this picture! Julia was holding him and he just naturally was propped up like this!  Julia is ALWAYS available to hold him!  She would never put him down if he was all hers.

He is our only baby with hardly any hair on top of his head.  I hope that what he does have doesn't fall out or he will really look like an old man!

Isn't this one funny?  He looks like he is in a yoga position and is meditating on something enjoyable.

Olivia took these.  She loves photography and had seen this idea somewhere else with the bow.

Our little gift from God sent straight from heaven.  It's really true.  Olivia had been praying I would get pregnant by the end of the year.  I had not conceived for over 2 years and just thought we were done having children since I was 43 at the time.  But at Thanksgiving of last year I realized I was pregnant!  Shocker!  We tease her that it was all her fault.

Olivia made this one black and white and I like the way it turned out.

Levi was really done at this point but I managed to get one last good one of him not crying.  We bought him this elephant when I was pregnant with him.  He doesn't appreciate it yet but I think he'll like it eventually.

Praise God for little people!  I'm glad that we had a boy because God knows exactly what Micah needs in a sibling his own age.  Micah plays with Reece constantly but there will be a time when Reece will be older and not as interested in playing with him.  Levi Z will be his companion and Micah will be a wonderful big brother to him.  I feel like I've just had a second set of children and I'm starting all over.

Probably because I am!